Secret Daughter: A Novel

Paperback | April 5, 2011

byShilpi Somaya Gowda

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“Moving and thought-provoking and informative and imaginative and beautifully executed.  What a wonderful story!”
—Mary Jane Clark


“This book is a must for anyone touched by adoption, or India, or the delicate dynamic between adolescent girls and their mothers.”
—Sujata Massey, author of Shimura Trouble


Secret Daughter, a first novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, explores powerfully and poignantly the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love through the experiences of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that binds them together. A masterful work set partially in the Mumbai slums so vividly portrayed in the hit film Slumdog Millionaire, Secret Daughter recalls the acclaimed novels of Kim Edwards and Thrity Umrigar, yet sparkles with the freshness of a truly exciting new literary voice.


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From the Publisher

“Moving and thought-provoking and informative and imaginative and beautifully executed.  What a wonderful story!”—Mary Jane Clark “This book is a must for anyone touched by adoption, or India, or the delicate dynamic between adolescent girls and their mothers.”—Sujata Massey, author of Shimura Trouble Secret Daughter, a first novel by ...

From the Jacket

Somer’s life is everything sheimagined it would be—she’snewly married and has startedher career as a physician in SanFrancisco—until she makes the devastatingdiscovery she never will beable to have children.The same year in India, a poormother makes the heartbreakingchoice to save her newborn daughter’slife by giving her away. It is ad...

Shilpi Somaya Gowda was born and raised in Toronto to parents who migrated there from Mumbai. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1991, she spent a summer as a volunteer in an Indian orphanage. She has lived in New York, North Carolina, and Texas, and currently m...

other books by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

The Golden Son: A Novel
The Golden Son: A Novel

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Secret Daughter: A Novel
Secret Daughter: A Novel

Paperback|Nov 6 2012

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The Golden Son: A Novel
The Golden Son: A Novel

Paperback|Dec 6 2016


see all books by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.83 inPublished:April 5, 2011Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0061928356

ISBN - 13:9780061928352

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magellan's Quest for Death and Glory A very complete and readable story of Magellan's remarkable voyage. I was repeatedly astonished by the violence, treachery, and lechery, of the protagonists, not to mention their extraordinary courage. A highly recommended and engaging read.
Date published: 2015-07-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Satisfying and disturbing Canadian first-time author Shilpi Somaya Gowda has written a compelling story that had me from the beginning. Born in Toronto, Canada, to parents from Bombay, India, she had insight and good understanding of both cultures. She mostly told the story from the perspective of three women – the adopted daughter, the adoptive mother and the birth mother. It was involved and interesting and hard to put down once I started reading. I don’t want to give away too much and spoil it for you, but for anyone who has adopted from another country, or is thinking about it, this book gives a different view of some of the things to take into consideration. The characters are well-developed, their life situations are convincing and detailed, and the reader gets to share in the story of their lives over a span of twenty-five years. It was easy to care about them. In fact, I experienced a range of emotions as I read this international bestseller. I liked how the author headed her chapters with not only the title, but also the location, date, and name of the person the reader was visiting in that chapter. Each chapter is only a few pages long which made it easy to read when having only a few minutes. It also helped the reader get oriented right from the start and occasionally helped the author step over a span of several years to move along in the story. It was well done. The only thing I did not like is the way the author chose to end this novel, although it is quite believable the way it happened. Obviously the ending did not interfere with the book’s success. Even so, if you are one who likes to read the end of a book first … in this case DON’T! Please, do yourself the favour of not peeking. It is well worth the wait. There has been criticism that the author ignored or changed some things about the culture of India to fit her story, but I don’t agree. In a couple of places I had questions, too, but since I have never studied their culture nor have I visited that country, I accepted that perhaps it was something that is changing there with the times. I believed the author would know that, so I didn’t let my lack of information get in the way of a great read.
Date published: 2012-05-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible I can't finish The Secret Daughter. It sucks. I can't stand it. As an adoptive mother, I am put off that the author did not do her homework and bother to use any proper adoption language. She leaves the reader, thus far, assuming that adopted children are incomplete. That they do not find satisfaction or fulfillment in being adopted. That they will always wonder who they are. Well ... politely put, PISH POSH! There's the feeling that an adoptive mother will always long for their "real" child and that the adoptive child will always long for their "true" family. And I really don't like that the adoptive mother pretty much doesn't even allow anything culturally related to that of her husband and adoptive daughter into her life, or even her home. Talk about self centered. I like to read to relax in the evening. I've been avoiding reading for weeks because I hate this book. I'm not finishing this book. So perhaps the ending is something worth reading to, but at this point in my very busy life, I'd rather forget about it and read something else more fulfilling to me.
Date published: 2011-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from "A First rate historical page turner!" When I read reviews on the cover of books I usually wonder how much the authors/publishers had to pay in order to generate a positive marketing or publicity. Often I see the words 'gripping', 'amazing', 'compelling', etc. to describe the author's work. Sadly and often times, however, the book hardly grips, amazes or compels you. As an avid and long-time reader, I've learned not to pay too much attention to the words of people inside the world of reviewing (ie New York Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle). Professional reviews have become overrated. Ultimately, what matters most is my opinion. What does it have to do with this book? Well, seldom do I find a book that turns out exactly what the reviews on the cover say. This time, I agree with the critics. "Over the Edge of the World" is truly 'gripping', 'highly readable', 'wonderfully written' and a 'first-rate historical page-turner'. It is arguably the best historic account of the first-recorded circumnavigation of the globe. Bergreen relies mostly on primary sources which are carefully structured so that it flows beautifully through and through. He takes you on board with Magellan and his crew as they explore, battle, mutiny, suffer, and die across the seas in search of - not gold, not treasure - but spices. If you love history and adventure, you will definitely love this book. It will simply amaze you!
Date published: 2009-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe - by Laurence Bergreen. This book is fantastic. Laurence Bergreen takes textbook facts and puts them in a story-type time line in this novel, which allows the reader to take in and absorb the many important dates and bits of information the book has to offer. Bergreen does an amazing job of putting together the various accounts and logbooks to come out with the finished product. Over the Edge of the World is a gripping tale depicting Ferdinand Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe, and his quest to find and conquer the Moluccas (Spice islands) in the name of the king of Spain. I won't say more on it, but read it, you won't be disappointed. One thing I will say, however, is that this book is not an easy read. It has been rated at a university 3 reading level. A woman in my office who was a teacher used this book in her curriculum. She asked me, and I quote, "are you actually reading that, or are you trying to impress somebody?" I admitted I was reading it and she in turn admitted she was impressed with me for the first time. She was impressed doubly when I said I loved the book.
Date published: 2008-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best historical books ever! Get out the popcorn because this book would make one amazing historical movie thriller full of thievery, adventure, sex, intrigue and anything else you can think of. Ferdinand Magellan or Fernando Magalhaes (his real Portuguese name) betrayed his homeland to sail for the enemy Castillians in search of the near mythical Spice Islands. This book is written with fluidity and ease that literally places the reader on the deck of one of the caravels plowing through the stormy seas or as an eye- witness between first contact between Europeans and peoples peoples from Patagonia to Asia. Laurence Bergreen shows how a history should be written. Amazing historical reseach. This book was hard to put down.
Date published: 2008-02-14

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Editorial Reviews

A No. 1 bestseller in Canada, “Secret Daughter” tells a nuanced coming-of-age story that is faithful to the economic and emotional realities of two very different cultures.